Developer: GAMELOFT
Price: $4.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★½☆☆

Overall Rating: ★★½☆☆

Gameloft’s Real Tennis HD for the iPad proves the adage that good looks aren’t enough to make a game a satisfying experience. Presenting itself as an arcade style tennis game, Real Tennis HD looks and sounds great and has plenty of options and game modes, but fails miserably when it comes to gameplay.

If you’ve ever played a tennis game on a console system (other than the unique experience of the Wii, of course), you’ll see many familiar elements in Real Tennis HD. The game looks similar to Sega’s Virtua Tennis or Microsoft’s Top Spin, though not nearly as refined or polished. All of the modes are nearly identical to its console kin: exhibition, instant play, championship, tournament and even online multiplayer. From a features standpoint, there’s no arguing that Real Tennis is competitive with much more expensive games.

Where the game fails, however, is in its controls – the one feature that a tennis game really needs to nail. After all, even tennis games on graphically crude systems like the Atari 2600 could thrive because of decent controls. While I’ve often railed that the virtual control pad many developers use on iPad and iPhone games is a poor design choice, here it is purely disastrous. Serving is no issue – merely move your player using the virtual control pad, then tap the serve button once to toss the ball in the air, and once to serve it. Everything after the serve, however, is an exercise in futility.

When your opponent returns your serve, you are given a small “x” on the court to denote where the ball will hit, but moving your player to the exact spot where he/she can effectively return the ball is next to impossible. Thus, you will spend most of your time while playing Real Tennis HD screaming at the screen as your inept virtual tennis player stumbles madly around the court, vainly attempting to return serves or even hit the ball at all.

It’s the reliance on console-style controls that ultimately proves the undoing of games such as this. Since the iPad features an amazingly responsive touch screen, why not simply touch the location on the court where you want your player to return a serve or lob a ball? A little multi-touch could go a long way here.

Real Tennis HD does have a low price of $4.99, but even that doesn’t excuse its poor execution. Gameloft can release much better games than this.


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